Friday, March 28, 2003

The first section of my new reorganized sidebar is going to be for deep political thinkers. This is for those bloggers who think about the future implications of events which are being discussed by other bloggers and news media. If the political blogosphere were really a global brain, they might be the cerebral cortex. I believe people who read a few of these will on the average talk and vote more intelligently.

In theory I favor independents over either liberals or conservatives. A reliably partisan blog might occasionally find new arguments for their chosen side, but most often will at best paraphrase arguments frequently made very well. In practice, one of my top political thinker blogs is very conservative and one is very liberal.

Steven Den Beste'sUSS Clueless is in one respect a standard neoconservative blog. Neocon is what you get if you subtract the religious and paleoconservative right from the Bush administration. If it is possible to find a logical explanation for any apparently self defeating Bush administration attempts at foreign policy, he will find it. The main difference between him and the legions of 'ordinary' neocon blogs is that he thinks seriously towards both the past and the future. While the other neoconservative are telling each other how horrible the cheese eating surrender monkeys are, he tries methodically to deduce what possible explanation there can be for what he and others consider absurdly obstructive behavior. After writing an essay examing every possible cause and thoroughly discussing the pro's and con's of each, he writes another one considering what ramifications their new foreign policy will have for ours ten or twenty years in the future, and how we should respond. Even if you reject his premises, this kind of thinking is what the blogosphere needs more of to become a venue for serious thought.

Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo is perhaps as far to the left as Steven Den Beste is to the right. I'm a tiny bit more in sympathy with Joshua, but that isn't why I give him a place of honor in the thinkers section. While many other people with reservations about the Bush administration were discussing the conduct of the war, he was writing an article for the Washington monthly about people in the Bush administration who may well have dangerous plans involving Iraq and Syria, and what the dangers of those plans are. I've also seen him publish correction to errors made by mainstream media - noteworthy not only because it takes a deep knowledge base to detect these errors, but also because it's hard for working journalists to get on the bad side of people they may have to work with some day - or who might even notice an error of theirs.

Shortly after I started reading Daniel W. Drezner, he wrote a post comparing in detail the defense plans of all the Democratic candidates for president. He gave one an A- for a plan with specifics. I was surprised to discover later he was a Republican - just nobody's lap dog. He does some seriously nuanced thinking on the long term effects the way America is handling Iraq may have on the international balance of power. Much of his best work might come under political linking rather than political thinking, but finding the cream of the cream so reliably requires fine judgement indeed.

There is much to like about OxBlog. The three intelligent politically aware bloggers who co-write this blog don't always have the exact same point of view. It's harder to misrepresent someone's argument when they share the same blog with you. I saw one of the openest corrections I've seen anywhere on this blog. There's a lot of great discussion, but somehow this criticism of the press that is neither a frantic accusation of left or right bias sums it up.

If one were to sum up the nature of such questions, one could do it in two words: confrontational and predictable. In principle, confrontation is good. Challenges from the press force elected officials to justify controversial decisions and account for notable failures. While somewhat of a turn-off, the snide and condescending tone of most of the question asked demonstrates that even in times of war, Americans' support for the First Amendment is so strong that journalists have the right to grill the President as if he were the defendent in a murder trial.

Unfortunately, the predictable nature of today's questions render their confrontational stance worthless. These are questions that Bush and Blair have answered dozens of times before. This sort of repetition demonstrates a disturbing lack of creativity on the journalists' part.

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